You need not wear the same shoes to know that it hurts particularly the parents when a child is born premature, with a birth defect, or even dies just a few months after his/her arrival. You might not feel the pinch but at least you are aware it's not a blissful experience.
Empathy however is more powerful than sympathy.
The joyous chants and festive atmosphere that frequently accompany childbirth are often absent in such cases. Sadly, many don't see it to be a big deal.
It was my first time being involved in the Aviva Day celebrations and outreach programs. To be candid, words alone cannot do the justice of explaining this experience that has been accompanied by a whirlwind of emotions.
I was opportuned to be part of the Open Dreams team that went to Mbingo Annex. I also joined CVG (Community Vision Group) to celebrate Aviva Day in Mbingo Baptist Hospital (Boyo Division) just after Christmas.
Seeing mothers spending the festive season in the hospital due to the conditions of their young ones was heartbreaking. The pain some of them felt was evident.
There's this satisfaction I felt within me as the gifts handed and time spent put a smile on the mother's faces. It was heart-warming.
With the Aviva Day outreaches, my attention has been drawn to the mothers who lose their children just a few months after birth or whose children are born with one congenital abnormality or another.
Right: The Director of the Regional Hospital Bamenda, Dr. Denis Nsame institutes the first ever Aviva Scholar, Niegem Mbwame, 6th year medical student at the university of Bamenda
How does a mother feel when her stay in the hospital is lengthened due to the struggles her baby is facing while other women come after her, give birth, have a smooth ride, and leave before her without her knowing for sure when her turn to leave will come?
How is a woman supposed to feel after carrying a baby in her womb for an average of nine months and even going through labor pains or probably a cesarean section just to lose the child a few days or months after delivering and nurturing the baby? What does she have to show for the struggles?
Open Dreams Family with partner organizations among them JumpStart Academy Africa, CORE-Africa
It could also be a scary experience and to a certain extent traumatizing to bring up a child with severe congenital abnormalities.
Some of these children themselves might tend to grow up with insecurities and be tempted to look down on themselves or even be intimidated by their mates who are "normal".
A lot of thoughts have gone through my mind with me trying to figure out how it truly feels and though the wearer alone knows where the shoe pinches, I can empathize with them and act accordingly.
As important as it is to reach out to those faced with such situations, precautionary measures must be taken to alleviate congenital defects and neonatal mortality.
These outreaches have given me a wake-up call. I am aware that I have a role to play and just as the theme of the year's Aviva Day (A nip in the bud) enumerates, early actions must be taken to stop such bad situations from occurring or becoming worse.
While I might not be able to find out why some of these babies die early or the remedy for these problems, I can play a great role in limiting some of these occurrences by raising awareness.
After all, a stitch in time as it is asserted saves nine.
The Aviva Day celebrations I must say have created lots of impacts. I for one have been
Nforshi Hope Bahri, Open Dreams Bamenda Hub